Here’s a thought

Woke up this morning early and hit the gym, had a great workout and then decided to work a bit on some school work, reading and tanning. I had a great day of thinking followed by a bit of frustration. I am going to talk about both in the post that follows.

Reading 180 days by Kelly Gallagher and Penny Kittle I am reworking a lot of what I did last year to set myself and my students up for more of a workshop model. I am really loving the ideas that Kittle and Gallagher have brought together in this book and highly recommend it.

I have been using Gallagher’s “Write Like This” for the last few years, I have loved the process of building better writers through focusing on different writing purposes. After attending a few Gallagher workshops I have adopted the idea of modelling my writing with the students, writing with them warts and all.

I plan to take the ideas from “Write Like This” and work it into this workshop model alongside the skills and strategies that I have used regarding reading. I want to start the year by introducing Notice and Note and BHH, products of the brilliant team of Robert Probst and Kylene Beers, Gallagher’s Thought Logs prompts, Cris Tovani’s “Fix Up’s” from “I Read it, But still don’t get it” and a few other strategies I have learned along the way.

The reading plan is not to flood with strategies and see what fits, I want to give them a toolbox and then through conferencing find out more specific needs. Students that need help do not need an endless ocean of options, they need a specific drop of water. We can only find that out by reading with them, talking with them and guiding them appropriately through conferencing.

Daily Reading, Writing and Sharing. Oh, and I am doing it all with minimal technology. Not because I don’t have access but because I don’t know if reading and writing and THINKING are best served plugged in 24/7. I love the idea of rough copies, “not there yet” work and just crossing out a line and writing notes beside it. Building our literacy skills is going to be done the “old-fashioned way” and I am pumped about the potential.

Here is what I am not pumped about, regular readers will know I am not a fan of a few things, AR, of course, being the top among them. This, however, is my runner-up. Teachers Pay Teachers is having their annual sale. A few months back I posted that I had shut down my TPT store (I won’t pretend it was building a retirement fund) because I could not support a site that was contributing to the one size fits all teaching that comes from these “cute” products. I can understand teachers looking for help, looking for ways to engage their students but I don’t see how Penguin themed counting sheets, reading sheets, writing sheets do that. What they do is make it easy to print out and serve to the kids, bonus it even takes up more class time to have the kids cut them out as part of the lesson (Art outcome? Not likely). If I could ask a favour of all the teachers lining up to buy a ton of things they think are cute and fun to decorate their room or run centre time with a theme it would be to just pause before they hit that submit order button. Consider what outcomes the penguin clipart covers and if you would be better serving your students through buying books, asking them what will engage them in class.

Bringing me back full circle to the start of this a line in 180 days stuck out as they discussed the constantly changing needs of our time throughout the year. That planning needs to be less concrete and more fluid. How likely are you to adopt this fluid thinking when you have spent a few hundred dollars on “cute” things for your room before you have even met those you are trusted to teach? Save the money on TPT and go buy a book or two. I wager the impact will be greater.

Just a thought.

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